Online file storage sites like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s SkyDrive are beginning to change how average site owners manage their content. Instead of having all of their content on their own servers, website owners are beginning to see the value in having some of their content, especially images and video, housed remotely on special storage sites or CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). This makes for:
- Lighter sites that load faster, due to much of the content being hosted in a separate location
- Cheaper sites, due to the decreased space and bandwidth requirements.
Which One Should You Use?
Dropbox has been preferred over some of the other storage providers for some time now. Why? Because it offers a superior level of integration with WordPress-based websites on account of its wide array of plugins and easy integration methods. This might be beginning to change…
Microsoft’s SkyDrive, an online file-storage application, received a lot of attention a couple of months back when they announced that their free-usage tier would now allow for storage of only 7GBs rather than the 25 GBs that had been offered previously (existing users, though, are grandfathered in and will still enjoy the 25GBs they signed up for). This seemed, at first blush, like a bit of a disappointment. Google Drive and Dropbox have been offering similar amounts of storage for some time (5GBs for Google Drive and 2GBs + 500MBs per referral for Dropbox) and quite a lot more. For SkyDrive to survive in this crowded and feature-rich environment, then, it would have to offer something exciting, novel, and a little bit fresh.
And that it did. A few features of the new SkyDrive include:
- In-browser editing of Microsoft Office documents using most of the native Office tools
- Automatic syncing between files on the user’s machine (in the SkyDrive folder) and the ones in the cloud
- “File Fetching”, where the user can remotely transfer files on their computer which are not in a SkyDrive folder, to a SkyDrive folder, when connected to SkyDrive, on any device, online.
All of which is great, but…
It is only really interesting, to the WordPress devotee, if SkyDrive can also be easily and smoothly integrated with your WordPress site. And now it can, with the introduction of a new, excellent plugin* that allows visitors to your WordPress site to download files directly from your SkyDrive account. Basically, users can download any file you want (and none that you don’t) from a link to your SkyDrive account without having to use a .zip file or any other contrivance. Simply install the plugin, make the file you want to share public, and add a link to the file in your site with a specially-designated class.
You can also use your SkyDrive to embed an image file on your site using your SkyDrive as a CDN. Just drag and drop the file to a folder in your account. Right click on the file to change the permissions, then right click again to open the embed screen. Press the button to create the embed code, then just copy it over to your site and it will display as you would expect.
To learn a little bit more about SkyDrive from the horse’s mouth:
*Also comes with a really conscientious developer. Just witness this epic support thread involving yours truly.